It’s said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But at what point does borrowing become exploitation?
Cultural appropriation has been propelled into the mainstream through Kylie Jenner’s corn rows and Honey G’s hip hop caricature.
Speaking to FUBAR’s Ian Boldsworth, Tinie Tempah chatted about a wide range of topics including the release of his new album, YOUTH, but when the topic of cultural appropriation was introduced, he came into his extremely eloquent own.
“Western cultures’ interpretation of other cultures and other art form within other cultures is where the issue with cultural appropriation comes from.” Tinie said.
“I didn’t ever have a problem with Honey G because I thought it was funny but a lot of people I knew had a problem with the fact that she was being taken as a serious rapper when it was quite clear she was just putting on an outfit and making a few hand gestures.
“When cultural appropriation comes into play is when a culture is not acknowledged, that is when I think people can get angry.”
Context ultimately is crucial. The debate is not about deciding whether you, as an individual, are a bad person if you appropriate someone else’s culture. It’s a hugely complex issue that includes our history, our current state of affairs and our desires to eliminate oppression instead of perpetuating it.
Tinie is well versed in what he calls ‘Britishness’ and the type of comedic “banter” which is entrenched within British culture.
“In the way we talk about music and talk about artists and do parodies and do skits and do gimmick kind of things in British culture, I definitely do feel like people misinterpret that for cultural appropriation.
“The taboo or the stigma comes from when people from a particular culture feel like their culture is being misrepresented or being taken the mick out of in the very natural, deep-rooted way that we do in British media or radio.
“There is a tone. But if it is about somebody’s culture or religion, that is when people will feel sensitive about it.”
Appropriating another’s culture effectively allows privileged people to profit from the oppressed people’s creativity, labour and deeply entrenched traditions.
“I think people find it awkward to relate or empathise with people’s struggle if they haven’t gone through it.” he continued.
“I like Dolly Parton but I have no idea where western music came from, I have no idea about her personal life or her background but she has a good voice and she sang good songs.
“It doesn’t matter whether she’s from middle America or Africa, I still like her.
“That’s what music is about, it is for the soul, not necessarily the person.”
Check out the full interview between Tinie Tempah and Ian Boldsworth:
Ian Boldsworth, every Monday 2-4pm ONLY on FUBAR Radio.